Cover image for Fast answers to common questions
Fast answers to common questions
Fischer, Carolyn A.
Publication Information:
Detroit ; London : Gale, [2000]

Physical Description:
xi, 618 pages ; 28 cm.
Subject Term:
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
AG195 .F37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order



Compiled by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the St. Louis Public Library, this collection of 4,500 questions and answers includes definitions, trivia, word etymologies, helpful hints, and other useful information (such as how to tie a toga). The entries are arranged under several subject headings: arts and the media; business and economics; education; food and beverages; government, politics, and law, history and geography; language and literature; medicine and health; recreation and sports; religion and the occult; science and mathematics; sociology and social issues; and technology. The index is strong, but the binding is flimsy.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

These are two titles in the new Gale Ready Reference Handbooks series, designed, according to the publisher, "to quickly answer questions." Other titles in the series include Fast Help for Major Medical Conditions [RBB My 1 00] and First Stop for Jobs and Industries [RBB Je 1 & 15 00]. Fast Answers to Common Questions is a compilation of "more than 4,500 common questions" based on "the ready reference files of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Saint Louis Public Library." The sources for this work are very good, but its arrangement is problematic. Questions and answers are arranged for browsing under 13 disciplines or fields. Each of these major fields is subdivided into subcategories. Thus, "Medicine and Health" is subdivided into "Animal Care and Health," "Drugs and Medicinal Herbs," "General Psychology," "Health Institutions and Practitioners," and "Heath Care." Within these broad categories, questions and answers "appear in random order. They are not listed alphabetically nor in any other manner." The problem with this organization is that ready reference is not about browsing but about direct and fast access to particular queries. For direct access, one is forced to look to the alphabetical index, but this is also problematic. Under African American, for example, there are undifferentiated references to more than 40 page numbers. Publishing the ready-reference files of great libraries is a good idea, but more attention should have been paid to organization and access. The second title, Where to Go/Who to Ask, appears to be a Gale spin-off from many of its reputable directories, although the introduction does not provide sources of data or criteria for inclusion. This is a compilation of "more than 18,000 associations, databases, publications, research centers, and organizations" with brief entries providing names of organizations, titles of publications, addresses, phone numbers, URLs, e-mail addresses, contact persons, and brief descriptions. This data is similar to what one might find in such notable Gale publications as Encyclopedia of Associations and Newsletters in Print, among many others. There is no statement of scope, but most sources appear to come from or to be related to the U.S. or Canada. This work provides much more direct access than Fast Answers, with entries arranged under "nearly 500 keywords" in a "yellow pages format." The keywords, which are listed at the front of the volume, begin with abortion and accounting, and end with wrestling, youth, and zoology. A separate keyword index provides access under most words in titles of publications or names of organizations. The selection of items for this compilation appears to be based more on what was available than what might be of interest to typical library users. Under the hot topic abortion only three items are listed. There are separate keywords in the main arrangement for reproductive rights and right to life, but none of these closely associated keywords are linked to the other by means of cross-references. In contrast to this rather limited coverage of abortion and related topics, the keyword libraries has 15 pages of entries, numbering more than 200. Some of the items listed seem a little obscure for such a general reference work, such as "Spotlight on Your Library," the newsletter of the Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, public library. Libraries having the flagship directories from Gale and similar publishers will want to skip this spin-off. Libraries who do not have their own copies of such standard directories may want to consider this less-expensive option.

Library Journal Review

Aimed at reference librarians needing quick answers to a wide range of patron questions, the "Ready Reference Handbook" series provides information, essays, overviews, and contact information. The quality and usefulness of the information provided, however, varies in each. Since much of the material in these six volumes is gleaned from other Gale titles and also some government publications, librarians might wonder whether they need to purchase some of these works. Although First Stop for Jobs and Industries provides information on more than 500 jobs and 1100 industries, this unillustrated paperbound work duplicates much material already available in Occupational Outlook Handbook, an illustrated clothbound volume published by the U.S. Department of Labor. Where To Go, Who To Ask, which contains descriptive listings of associations, databases, publications, and research centers, is gleaned mostly from the Encyclopedia of Associations and other Gale publications. Gale's Guide to Nonprofits features over 4600 entries, including names, addresses, phone/FAX numbers, e-mail addresses/URLs, and descriptions. Again, much of this material on nonprofits was gleaned from the Encyclopedia of Associations, Research Centers Directory, Newsletters in Print, and other Gale publications. Containing descriptive listings of 4200 organizations, publications, and databases, Gale's Guide to Genealogical & Historical Research contains many citations derived from Regional, State, and Local Organizations. The last two titles discussed here probably present the most material not available in other Gale publications. Offering material on 100 common medical diseases and conditions, Fast Help for Major Medical Conditions (FHMMC) provides some unique information, both original and specially researched, including introductory essays providing an overview of a particular disease or condition and lists of state, regional, and local organizations garnered by both the FHMMC staff and federal and nonprofit health agencies. Finally, the very interesting Fast Answers to Common Questions, modeled after the Science and Technology Desk Reference (LJ 3/15/93), was co-compiled by the Saint Louis Public Library. Containing 4500 common and not-so-common reference questions in a wide variety of fields, this work is organized in a Q&A format and includes specific citations for every answer provided. Since all these works are paperbound but still pricey, the durability of the volumes may also be a purchase factor for volumes that can expect frequent use. Nonetheless, libraries with specific needs and without the other Gale titles will find these useful.DDonald Altschiller, Boston Univ. Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Series Informationp. vii
Introductionp. ix
User's Guidep. xi
Fast Answers to Common Questions
Chapter 1 Arts and the Mediap. 1
Craftsp. 1
Mediap. 1
Performancep. 32
Visual Artsp. 43
Chapter 2 Business and Economicsp. 49
Consumer Issuesp. 49
Economicsp. 52
Financep. 53
General Businessp. 59
Laborp. 65
Markets, Sales, and Tradep. 66
Chapter 3 Educationp. 71
Colleges and Universitiesp. 71
Libraries, Museums, and Research Institutionsp. 74
Pre-College Educationp. 75
Chapter 4 Food and Beveragesp. 79
Beveragesp. 79
Culinary Artsp. 83
Diet and Nutritionp. 84
Foodp. 86
Chapter 5 Government, Politics, and Lawp. 97
Governmentp. 97
Lawp. 140
Politicsp. 152
Chapter 6 History and Geographyp. 163
General Historyp. 163
Geography and Mapsp. 170
Beginning of History to 475p. 181
476 to 1500p. 186
1500 to 1789p. 190
1789 to 1918p. 199
1918 to presentp. 220
Chapter 7 Language and Literaturep. 247
Languagesp. 247
Poetryp. 252
Prosep. 259
Quotationsp. 276
Words and Symbolsp. 281
Chapter 8 Medicine and Healthp. 301
Animal Care and Healthp. 301
Drugs and Medicinal Herbsp. 303
General Psychologyp. 307
Health Institutions and Practionersp. 311
Health Carep. 315
Chapter 9 Recreation and Sportsp. 331
Games, Toys, and Hobbiesp. 331
Individual Awardsp. 339
Outdoor Activitiesp. 348
Team Sportsp. 350
Chapter 10 Religion and the Occultp. 365
Occultp. 365
Philosophyp. 371
Religion and Mythologyp. 373
Chapter 11 Science and Mathematicsp. 401
Biology, Zoology, Botany, Anatomyp. 401
Chemistry, Physics, Astronomyp. 424
Geology, Meteorology, Oceanographyp. 439
Mathematicsp. 455
Weights, Measures, and Timesp. 456
Chapter 12 Sociology and Social Issuesp. 465
Community Servicesp. 465
Crime and Criminalsp. 468
Cultures and Customsp. 483
General Sociologyp. 503
Social Issuesp. 504
Social Statisticsp. 509
Chapter 13 Technologyp. 517
Agriculturep. 517
Buildings, Bridges, and Other Structuresp. 522
Communicationp. 530
Energy and Related Industriesp. 541
Manufacturing and Miningp. 546
Transportationp. 562
Indexp. 581